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Daley Lays Low While City Unions Boycott Meeting

By Kevin Robinson in News on Jun 11, 2009 2:00PM

Mayor Daley canceled his public appearances for the third straight day in a row yesterday, citing a lingering illness. The mayor was scheduled to attend a graduation of firefighters and hold a press conference unveiling new security cameras around Navy Pier. The mayor was also scheduled to meet with leaders of city labor unions in a last-ditch effort to salvage difficult negotiations over Chicago's ongoing budget crisis. "We thought it best he not mingle and shake hands with hundreds of people," Daley spokeswoman Jacquelyn Heard told the Tribune. "Rather than pass on this lingering bug, we decided to keep him [at City Hall] today." The meeting quickly became moot, however, when local labor leaders were a no-show at the meeting. Chicago Federation of Labor spokesman Nick Kaleba said the organization had no comment on the decision not to attend.

The mayor's absence from public events has become even more noticeable as the growing scandal around his nephew's real estate firm and its connection to city pension fund investments has amplified.

While local unions have become increasingly frustrated in recent years with the mayor's actions, his decision to cross a picket line in Providence, Rhode Island to attend the upcoming U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting won't win him any favor either. The dispute between Providence Mayor David Cicilline and local firefighters has been a point of contention out East for nearly a decade. President Obama and members of his administration will not attend the meeting, to avoid taking sides in the long running dispute. Daley, however, feels that it sets a "bad precedent" that the White House is steering clear. "This entire meeting was established around the administration┬╣s desire to get the word out about the stimulus package," said Frank Kruesi, former CTA President and Chicago's chief Washington lobbyist. "All of that has gone one up in smoke over an informational picket with one union in the host city. This is a very bad precedent. It's incomprehensible." Heard said that Daley made a commitment to be at the meeting and intends to uphold his commitment.